There are still two of the top free agents from this past offseason unsigned. While the Yankees hardly need a reliever (sorry, Craig Kimbrel), the Bombers could use a boost in the starting rotation and have thus been tied to Dallas Keuchel.
Here’s a rundown on some recent reports and rumors about the 2015 American League Cy Young winner:
Boras: Keuchel could be ready to pitch in a week
Beyond negotiating record deals, agent Scott Boras is known for talking a big game. With Keuchel as his client, he is no different. The agent told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi that the left-hander would be ready to pitch within one week of signing, should the signing team want him that quickly.
A one-week timeline would be ambitious, but we’re also in uncharted territory. Last year’s free-agent class was seemingly less prepared for a long wait during the winter, but Boras and Keuchel had a gameplan. Keuchel has reported been throwing 95+-pitch bullpen sessions to remain sharp and ready. There aren’t many top-shelf (and healthy) starting pitchers to sit out nearly half a season.
Keuchel may not literally be ready in a week’s time, but Boras’ comments indicate he’d be ready quickly. For the many teams in need of pitching help, that’s good news. Whether he’d be effective a week out from signing is anybody’s guess.
Yankees a frontrunner for Keuchel
SNY’s Andy Martino termed the Yankees as well-positioned to sign the free agent left-hander. He was careful to mention that other team’s are involved and there’s no contract ready to go, but he’s also not the first person to tie Keuchel to the Yankees. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman similarly wrote about the Yankees’ interest in the left-hander.
Though James Paxton has returned and CC Sabathia is set to do the same Sunday, the Yankees’ rotation depth has thinned with Luis Severino and Jonathan Loaisiga out. J.A. Happ has been homer prone while Domingo German has an innings limit of some kind.
It was previously reported by Newsday’s Erik Boland that the Yankees sent a scout to watch one of Keuchel’s bullpen sessions. They’re not the only team to have seen him pitch, but it’s a good sign of interest in the 31-year-old.
Keuchel likely to sign soon after midnight Monday
Keuchel is expected to sign at some point soon after midnight on Monday, June 3, according to Heyman. That is, not coincidentally, the time when he will no longer be tied to draft-pick compensation.
Heyman underlines the Yankees and Braves as top teams in pursuit of the left-hander while mentioning four other teams. There’s real competition here.
Rays also interested
If the Yankees don’t sign Keuchel, they may have to face him multiple times this year. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote about the Rays’ interest in Keuchel to boost their rotation, which lost Tyler Glasnow to the 60-day IL in early May. Heyman also mentioned the Rays as a possible suitor.
Though they’ve had tremendous results from their pitching staff, the Rays are thin at the moment. Without Glasnow, they’re down to two traditional starters, Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, while using a trio of bulk pitchers tied to openers in Yonny Chirinos, Jalen Beeks and the recently recalled Ryan Yarbrough.